bang & olufsen: a behind-the-scenes look at the manufacturing processes
 

bang & olufsen: a behind-the-scenes look at the manufacturing processes

 

as bang & olufsen puts so much effort into finding and developing their product concepts, it is only natural that in the process, the company strives to make these products reflect on the longevity of the ideas behind them. with meticulous attention to every detail and a staff of devoted employees, ‘factory 5’ combines generations of knowledge with advanced tools that work within thousands of an inch. trying not to lose sight of their goal, their ambition is the creation of enduring magical experiences. celebrating 91 years of producing eye-catching technology, the high-end danish product design company has invited designboom for a behind the scenes look at ‘factory 5’ and its processes.

bang & olufsen behind scenes factory visit manufacturing processes designboom
the mechanical plant is located in struer, denmark

 

 

bang & olufsen’s factory 5 manufactures mechanical components. the work here is to convert the ideas of designers and product developers into products without compromising the original intentions. the factory persistently explores new technologies and opportunities, as process specialists and designers continuously challenge one another in search for new and enriched experiences. for instance, the danish design company has pioneered and integrated a technique that allows light to illuminate through aluminum. this can be experienced in ‘beolab 20‘, where the bang & olufsen logo on the loudspeaker’s top has been laser drilled to illuminate eloquently when playing and remain detectable when turned off.

bang & olufsen behind scenes factory visit manufacturing processes designboom
the factory uses advanced and specialized machinery to produce the aluminum pieces and surfaces
image © designboom

 

 

the aluminum lens at the top of ‘beolab 20’ receives a protective anodizing that coats it with a thin layer of blue oxide to ensure it does not suffer superficial damage during the laser drilling and display the current process- step. tiny conical holes are laser drilled in the shape of the logo and the loudspeaker then undergoes an etching process to remove any dust that could cause impurities during the anodizing. a final layer of protective, transparent oxide is anodized onto the crown. after the anodizing, acrylic polymer is poured into the holes and cured with UV light to prevent dust and other contaminants from accumulating in the crevices, which would cause the light to fade over time. technicians perform a final manual quality control, checking the aluminum for impurities that would exclude it from assembly, along with the light source’s clarity and brightness. to conclude the process, employees implant a piece of tape on the inside of the aluminum top to diffuse the LED light source, which evenly illuminates the logo.

bang & olufsen behind scenes factory visit manufacturing processes designboom
when working with aluminum, the anodizing process which bang & olufsen has been doing for over 50 years is key
image © designboom

 

 

 

factory 5 uses advanced and specialized machinery to produce the aluminum pieces and surfaces. the processes that the machines perform include turning, milling, polishing, blasting, laser cutting and marking, anodizing of aluminum, and silk-screen printing. one of the key elements when working with aluminum is the anodizing process which bang & olufsen has been doing for the past 50 years and owns one of the most advanced anodizing plants in the world. it is a major design feature for both the designers and product developers, allowing them to experiment with a myriad of surface finishes and create up to 250 different color nuances, which is characterized across the ‘beosound’ series and the strong brass finish in the ‘cool modern collection’. ‘beospray’ is the technology that applies color to the aluminum, and is a highly advanced and unique bang & olufsen dyeing principle that enables dye molecules to blend with various metallic color schemes that can accommodate to the creativity of designers.

bang & olufsen behind scenes factory visit manufacturing processes designboom
‘factory 5’ is one of the most advanced anodizing plants in the world

 

 

 

in essence, the employees allot the aluminum in a spray-chamber with nozzles that sprays a mist of dye pigments, filling the open pores of the anodized aluminum with color. the longer time the unit spends immersed in the mist, the darker and intense the color will become. demineralized water rinses the unit to remove excess dye pigments and to conclude the process, it is sealed and subjected to a manual quality control. in 1992, bang & olufsen invested and built the anodizing plant, and today it has completely substituted the heavy metal polluting galvanizing processes, resulting in a healthier and better environment for everybody – including the employees. the anodizing plant has its own cleaning facility that rinses the wastewater, removing all environmentally harmful residues before leading it to the local purifying plant in struer.

bang & olufsen behind scenes factory visit manufacturing processes designboom
bang & olfusen has added a new brass finish to their beosound speaker family

 

 

 

factory 5 are experts in the fields of anodizing and aluminum handling. combining these outstanding qualities facilitate the production processes that deliver the unrivaled quality aluminum for B&O products. an example of such an unparalleled product is ‘beoremote one‘. it begins its journey through factory 5 as a piece of extruded aluminum and takes the first step towards its destination with a two-step hydraulic forming process that creates the iconic bend in the remote control. compartments for the batteries and electronics are CNC-milled in a double spindle horizontal milling machine, which is capable of milling two units simultaneously. after the milling, a polishing machine polishes the aluminum with first a rough and later a fine surface finish.

bang & olufsen behind scenes factory visit manufacturing processes designboom
‘beoremote one’ features a silk-finish resistant to fingerprints

 

 

 


once the polishing is complete, technicians mount the aluminum on a rack and perform a manual quality control.
if approved, they send it to the anodizing plant. if it fails, they assess the problem and decide if it is eligible for a process-repeat or scrap it. the matt ‘beoremote one’ has an additional step; to achieve its silk-finish it is glass-blasted by a micro-glass media before it goes to the anodizing plant. the anodization will protect the beautifully polished surface for many years to come and resembles the glazing on fine china. bang & olufsen’s factory 5 and its employees have together built an outstanding competence and skill through generations of artisanship in the difficult productions of polished aluminum, offering countless possibilities in the material realm.

beosound-1-2-bang-olufsen-designboom-newsletter
read more about the beosound speaker on designboom here

bang & olufsen behind scenes factory visit manufacturing processes designboom
conical forms of beosound 1 – cool modern collection in production line
image © designboom

mks-designboom-newsletter
read designboom’s interview with marie kristine schmidt, bang & olufsen’s head of brand, design + marketing here

 

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